One of the Fermilab founders and former URA president Norman Ramsey died on Nov. 5. He was 96 years old.
Ramsey’s influence reached far into the scientific and political realms. He was a pioneer in magnetic resonance, a Harvard professor and an important participant in the development of radar and the atomic bomb in World War II. After the war, Ramsey chaired the President’s Science Advisory Committee, which worked in tandem with the General Advisory Committee to the Atomic Energy Commission. In April of 1963, Ramsey put forth a report recommending the design and construction of a 200 BeV accelerator. Informally, the study became known as the Ramsey Report.
“Norman was the catalyst that enabled the creation and evolution of Fermilab from 1963 into the 1980s,” Fermilab historian and archivist Adrienne Kolb said. “He assured Fermilab’s continuity and had all the right answers to quiet any challenges, wherever they surfaced.”
The Universities Research Association, Inc. (URA) was assembled in 1965 to manage the project that was known as the National Accelerator Laboratory (NAL). Ramsey became president of the URA in 1966. He took a sabbatical in 1973, but returned to the position in 1974. He remained president until 1981, taking another short break in 1979. The idea of a national laboratory managed by a consortium of universities, and not by a single institution, was revolutionary. Ramsey developed the concept through his work on the Ramsey Report and followed through with the creation of NAL.